Thursday, November 15

Mr. Complainer

The other night I dinner I made a lie and broke a promise. I sold out and I "changed" in that bad way people mean when they say "you've changed."

In college, I worked at the Guest Relations desk at the big Six Flags theme park in New Jersey. It actually should have been called the "complaint" desk because you only related to customers who were pissed, in that classic concept that you only hear from the people who are upset. Would anyone ever bother to stop by just to say they had fun?

Once summer the park declared a "war on lines," as they added 25 new rides to ensure there would be plenty of stuff for everyone to get on. Then they realized that 25 rides require like 100 more employees, and that costs too much money, so by mid season it seemed like most of these rides were constantly closed for "repairs." Yeah.

Enter the complaint desk, which was a nightly battle between customers screaming for a refund and workers trying not to buckle under the pressure. It was scary at first but I grew to like it. It was a real challenge trying to keep your cool when a dad was threatening to either A) kill you if he could ever get you outside of this building B) kill your first born so you could understand what it was like to be a bad parent, as he had already experienced from bringing his kid to a park with no rides C) get a lawyer and sue you, and then use the money to pay someone to kill you.

I actually grew so caloused that I started enjoying this nightly battle, changing my tone of "whose next?" to a more sinister "whose next?" like the wrestler Goldberg used to say. C'mon, give it your best shot, you will not get your money back. Get the kids to cry, sure. Threaten to kill me if you see me in the parking lot tonight. Whatever, you're a complainer and I have no sympathy.

Sadly these people had a point, but once the battle became personal it became a game without rules. Honestly, it was fun to watch these screaming matches, especially when someone would try to reach under the window and grab my company-issue clip on tie. If the park was smart, they would have told people to watch, because it was way more fun to do that than go on any of the crappy rides anyway.

Unfortunately I developed so much mental scar tissue from this that I am unable to complain about anything. If I did, I would be "like them." If I bought a new bike tomorrow and it seized in the parking lot, I would just push it into the trailer and say "No no, no problem." If an airport security worker sexually violated me tonight I would just chalk it up to doing their job. Once time I got a hamburger at Wendy's that featured meat the same color as the tomato. I ate it. No complaining.

So on Tuesday night the girlfriend and I went to a local restaurant we like. The waiter was the sad, skinny, nerdy, geeky character who you know gets made fun of at school just to come to work and get made fun of some more. Man, I've got emotional scars from that, too. He comes to our table and asks how we're doing, and when I return the question he sighs and says "Ooooohhh it's been such a long day."

I then promised him we would be good. Hey, I'm the easiest guy ever in that sense (just ask the airport security guy.)

Well, I was already to order my massive plate of chicken "fingers" when the girlfriend casually mentioned that the catfish is very good at this restaurant. My clarity became foggy and I could not decided between catfish and chicken "fingers" any longer. I was stuck. I asked the waiter what he thought and he meekly made no suggestion. I went with the catfish. He then asked if I wanted it friend or Cajun style, and I said fried because that would be closest to the giant pile of fried skin fat that they call chicken "fingers."

The catfish showed up. I didn't like it. It was a cheap replacement for the "fingers" and I knew it. I blew it, I wasn't satisfied and now I was paying money just to make myself unhappy.

I saw our poor nerdy waiter walk past. I motioned for him. I told him I didn't like the catfish as much as I thought and asked to try the Cajun style. He took the plate and promptly put in an order for a whole new meal, Cajun style, and what's more he didn't even charge me for it. He apologized over and over and said it was his fault for not suggesting something.

Then I got my second meal for no extra charge. I had complained, and the complaining helped me get something.

This realization makes me feel cold and empty inside, knowing that he who bitches most gets rewarded over he who sucks up the suckiness. This is a sad fact, and although completely lost on my old Six Flags managers, it ends up that way every day.

Last night we were at a local hole in the wall bar and the waitress forgot to charge me for our meal (which consisted of two chilli dogs and a cheese plate that was indeed simply a plate of cheese. Total? $3.50)

When I heard the tab didn't include the food, I mentioned it and paid her the additional $3.50. I feel a little bit better now.


Anonymous said...

I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed......


Paul said...

Ah wish ah could quit yew...

Seriously, that was one weird, but insightful, post. Uh, thanks?

Anonymous said...

You describe Karma.

Last Sunday I went to the local Perkins for breakfast, stopped off at the convenient next door for a newspaper. The store was closed, but the bundles of papers were sitting on the step outside, so I helped myself to one. I ate my breakfast while reading my 'free' newspaper. I left, paid the bill and headed home only to find I left my cell phone in the booth. I never did get that cell phone back. The newspaper ended up costing me $250.00.

Anonymous said...

If you want to learn how to whine and complain check out Moto-whine-talk.It's a sad day in Mx when crying is what the moto world has come to.

Bad Billy said...

Weege: I, like you previously were, am not a complainer. In fact, I hate it when people complain. It's not the server's fault that your food sucks. It's a mistake. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, most of the time. Oh well. Nice guys finish last.

Jason Weigandt said...

Dad, you should be ashamed.

Paul, quitters never win.

Karma Chameleon, that's a great story. I almost had a similarly priced cab ride this weekend when my cell phone fell out of my pocket on the ride from the Rio to the Orleans. Luckily, the fine folks at Desert Cab radioed around until they found the car and the phone--and in addition the guy came back with a receipt, which he was unable to produce when I was in the cab with him the first time. I'm not sure what lesson I learned besides being lucky is better than being good. I hope that was a good paper!

Mototalk Guy, at this point the only complaining I'm sick of is people complaining about being sick of MotoTalk.

Billy, you're so lame.